NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis’ primary adjustment to the NBA is not overcoming jet lag or shifting from center to power forward.
“We’ve spent the year teaching him that these guys are out to take his head off,” Hornets Coach Monty Williams said of the former University of Kentucky star. “He’s not playing against an all-state player from Mississippi.
“These are the best in the world, and they are trying to take you out. That has been a bit of an ordeal for him to overcome because he is used to people liking him. These guys don’t like you anymore.”
Tom Thibodeau doesn’t like the former Perspectives Charter High School star from Chicago. The Bulls coach loves him.
“Jeez ... he’s just incredible,” Thibodeau said. “His skill set is so unique. His timing, shot-blocking, athleticism. He can put it on the floor, shoot it a little bit. He does a lot of things you can’t teach.”
Davis entered Tuesday night’s game, his first against his hometown Bulls, averaging 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. His first points came on a thunderous fast-break dunk in the first quarter and he finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the 96-87 Bulls’ victory.
The future: Asked if he believes Davis one day will blossom into a 20-point scorer, Hornets general manager Dell Demps replied: “I’m not good at (projecting). I just like that he makes lot of wining plays. Some are points and some are rebounds, blocked shots, assists, steals and defense. He checks a lot of boxes.”
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound Davis, who wasn’t made available to print reporters before Tuesday’s game, won’t turn 20 until next month.
“He has some natural gifts that make the game easy,” Demps said. “He can be in the paint and get out to the 3-point line to contest a shot. He can block a shot and finish with a lob on the other end. He has a pretty good jump hook with both hands.
“In college he played center, but he’s a power forward for us so he is guarding a lot more skill guys. He might get tricked the first time, but he figures it out the second time.”